The first time I heard of Spencer was when my uncle married a woman who had two children about my age. They came from Spencer. They said it was near Bloomington. I had no idea where Bloomington was, so that wasn’t any help in locating the place. Turns out it’s right here, on State Road 67.

Imagery ©2023 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2023 Google.

Spencer is also on US 231, which is concurrent with SR67 here, and State Road 46. Through most of town, the three highways share the same route. State Road 67 enters from the northeast until it reaches Morgan Street, which is the town’s main drag. Here it joins SR 46’s route. On the west end of town, SR 46 and SR67/US 231 go their separate ways, SR 67 resuming its southwesterly trajectory.

If you drive east out of town on SR 46, by the way, you’ll shortly reach the straight-up gorgeous McCormick’s Creek State Park. About a half hour farther and you’ll reach Bloomington.

Spencer is the seat of Owen County. Founded in 1820, it was named for Speir Spencer, a militia captain who died in the Battle of Tippecanoe. About 2,200 people live in Spencer.

Strangely, Spencer’s town square and business district is not on SR 67. Rather, it’s a couple blocks south of it, which is unusual. Here’s the Owen County Courthouse at the center of the square.

Owen County Courthouse

The Spencer Public Library, a Carnegie library, is on the southeast corner of the square.

Spencer Carnegie Library

Here’s the north side of the square.

Spencer Town Square

Finally, the Tivoli Theater stands a block off the northeast corner of the square.

Tivoli Theater, Spencer

Things look mighty tidy in and around Spencer’s square. Like a nitwit, I failed to photograph SR 67 through town. It is not as tidy and does not present this good of an image of this town.

Where SR 67 and SR 46 split on the west end of town you’ll find an old alignment of SR 67. The road used to curve less sharply and cross a bridge that is now closed to traffic before flowing onto 5th Avenue. The road becomes CR 40 W before it rejoins the current alignment of SR 67.

Imagery ©2023 IndianaMap Framework Data, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2023 Google.

Here’s that bridge, southbound, looking forlorn.

Closed Old SR 67 bridge, Spencer

Next: Rounding up Owen County, a lot of narrow gravel old alignments and a town called Freedom.

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6 responses to “Indiana State Road 67: Spencer”

  1. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    Doing a little digging, the railroad station was just north of the courthouse, so I suspect the original downtown started on the N/S Main Street where is crossed the tracks. Possibly when the highway was laid out a couple of decades later they didn’t think the E/W street between the the store buildings and the tracks was wide enough to be a through route?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That makes really good sense.

  2. Warren W Jenkins Avatar
    Warren W Jenkins

    I think all or part of the answer is that previous to the 1960s, the road network led one south towards Bloomington out of Spencer to Southport, where SR43 and 46 split south of the river bridge,.
    Looking at Historic Aerials;1958 topo, 43 and 46 are shown coming together at Southport.
    In the 1967 topo, 43 has been extended north to meet 46 just east of McCormick’s Creek S.P.
    46 has been extended west across the White River directly into the east side of Spencer.
    On the north side of the river from Southport, 1986 or earlier aerials show that South Main and South Washington made a funnel at the north end of the bridge. I wonder if this suggests one-way traffic in those times, southbound on S. Main, northbound on S. Washington.
    The good news here is that Jim has 2 onetime state highway alignments to explore (46 is River Road, 43 is Freeman Road).

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      AH!!! Thank you for shedding this light! I really need to remember to check the old maps and topos more. I did SR 46 from TH to Bloomington some years ago as a road trip and missed the original Spencer alignment.

  3. J P Avatar

    That place where SR 46 makes the sharp turn on the west edge of town will be forever in my memory as the location of a stake bed truck tipping over and dumping its load of about 8 head of cattle. All was well until a town cop came blasting onto the scene with lights and sirens. The cows scattered and it took two days before they were all found – after someone ran into the black one late at night on 46 between Spencer and Bloomington. The depositions of the people involved in the great cow chase were some of the most memorable of my career.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nobody knows the troubles you’ve seen! :-)

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